UPDATE 6/2/2014: Within the past 2 weeks amazon has begun requiring sellers to obtain approval before being allowed to sell in the grocery category. Sellers who had previously been selling in the grocery category were “grand fathered in” as long as their metrics in the category were up to par. In order to see the requirements to sell you can begin by clicking this link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=14113001
You will need to log in to your amazon seller account in order to view the information in the above link. The next step is to click the “view requirements” link for the “grocery & gourmet foods” category. On this page you can find the requirements to sell groceries on amazon, and find out the steps that need to be completed in order to be granted the approval.
Here is the original post:
I have been getting quite a few questions via email and comments on the blog about selling groceries on amazon since my December results post. In today’s post I will cover some of the things that have helped me starting out, and some things to look for related to selling groceries on amazon. I will be focusing on selling groceries for FBA, but much of this could be applied to merchant fulfilling groceries as well.
The first thing to note about selling in the grocery category is that there are a few more rules in place compared to many other categories, as someone will be consuming the product. One of the main rules relates to expiration dates on the products, the expiration date has to be a certain number of days in the future to be for sale on amazon, and a certain number of days in the future to even send into FBA. I am not going to share what the current dates are, as they are often updated by amazon, and I don’t want this post to provide inaccurate information in the future. However, you can find the information you need to know on amazon, and this link should help you get started: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200339730.
There are also restrictions on when you can send in “meltable” products, such as chocolates, and information on when those can be sent into amazon FBA can be found in the link above as well. Be sure to keep this in mind, because if you send in a meltable product outside the date range that they are accepted, you run the risk of your product be disposed of upon arrival. Do your homework, and follow the rules and you will be good to go.
Assuming you still want to try out selling groceries through FBA after you have done some research on the requirements, the next step is finding grocery items to sell on amazon.
I will provide a few tips from what I have learned so far from selling groceries through FBA. As far as what to look for as candidates to sell, the first place to start is with items that are only found in your region. Try to think of things that people in different regions do not have access to, but would be willing to pay a premium to have shipped to their door. A good way to try to think of these items is, when visiting friends or family that live in a different region than you, are there any grocery items that they ask you to bring with? This can give you an idea, and people will pay a premium online for items that are not available to them locally.
The other major tip that I have is to pay attention to the upcoming holidays, and related to this, what items will people be looking for related to this holiday? and after this holiday has past, what will be on clearance?
For example, after Halloween, stores had Halloween candy on clearance and I bought quite a bit to resell on amazon. Here’s a picture of just some of what I found (taken first week of November 2013):
These are just a few of the items I purchased, and most of them were at least 70% off the retail prices. This was my first year really selling in groceries, so I didn’t buy more than about 10 of an individual item, but I sold the vast majority of what I purchased within 2 months. After Halloween was over, I began to think about what people would be buying for Thanksgiving, stuffing? pumpkin pie filling? cranberry sauce? Many people purchase these items on amazon.
Keep this thought process throughout the year, and you will constantly be buying items that people want for the upcoming holidays, and then selling them the things they want but can no longer find after the holidays. This is where a lot of my grocery numbers have come from. Currently, you may still be able to find some Christmas candy and items on clearance.
These 2 tips should help to give you an idea of where to get started. I would also recommend scanning random items throughout the grocery store to see if they present resale opportunities, I have found items this way as well. When you do find something, look at similar items. Let’s say you find a brand of taco sauce that sells well on amazon, scan other types of taco sauces, and other items of the same brand of the taco sauce. Oftentimes finding one item will lead to finding several others.
I hope this post helps you get started. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments in the comments section below. Also, if you want to see a current list of the of the tools and services I am using related to my amazon business checkout my resources page here: www.onlinesellingexperiment.com/resources.
UPDATE 2/25/2014: I just did a blog post reviewing Grocery Goldmine by Jessica Larrew and Beth Maus to help you decided if this book will help you learn how to sell groceries. HERE is the link to my post.
One last item to note, next week there will be a guest post from one of my friends who has been selling online on a part time basis since July of 2013. He is starting to see some very good results, and is willing to share his story and a few things he has learned along the way. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!